Dawn Bazely awarded RCIScience Sandford Fleming Medal for outstanding science communication

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University Professor Dawn Bazely in the Faculty of Science joins the ranks of illustrious Canadians like Nobel Laureate John Charles Polanyi and astronaut Chris Hadfield as the recipient of the 2022 Sandford Fleming Medal for excellence in science communication from the Royal Canadian Institute for Science (RCIScience).

The selection committee was unanimous in its decision, noting Bazely’s impressive, diverse range of activities as a science communicator and activist for more than 30 years.

“Dr. Bazely is an advocate of science in Canada, a champion for women in STEM, marginalized and low-income students, and a promoter of listening to and learning from Indigenous knowledge and wisdom,” said nominator Robert Tsushima, Chair of the Department of Biology at York University. “Her science communication has been thoroughly 21st century – bold and innovative, and meeting the public where they are rather than expecting the public to come to her. Dr. Bazely takes advantage of all forms of communication platforms to disseminate her message on science, environmental policies, discrimination, and social justice. Her science communication reaches a global audience.”

Dawn Bazely
Dawn Bazely

Nominator Professor Shoshanah Jacobs (University of Guelph), said that “Dr. Bazely has made a career-long commitment to excellence in science communication. Her leadership, advocacy, and expertise have been behind so many important initiatives. She is a champion of access to science knowledge and fierce leader in evidence-informed policy making.”

Bazely joined York University’s Biology department in 1990 and has since established an exceptional international reputation for her excellence in teaching, research and science outreach. She has given dozens of media interviews and appeared online on panels, interviews and documentaries speaking about her own ecological research and also as an expert commentator on a wide range of science and science-policy issues. She has also advocated for improved policy to make science more inclusive, learning how to be strategic in this from colleagues in the social sciences and humanities.

In addition to her undergraduate teaching and graduate supervision duties, Bazely has organized more than 30 public science events and training workshops nationally and internationally and participated in and supported many more public science events organized by colleagues and early career researchers. She has mentored more than 20 early careers scientists who have gone on to professional careers in science communication and science policy. She was also a co-founder of the Seneca College Science Communication Summer Institute.

Bazely is sought after by academics from outside of science as a collaborator in interdisciplinary projects. Most recently she worked with colleagues in history and botany interested in the impacts that women and members of other equity-seeking groups have made in science. She is often consulted by policymakers from diverse sectors ranging from conservation biology to ecotourism and climate change adaptation.

Her accolades include the Minister of Colleges and Universities’ Award of Excellence in the Future-Proofing Students Category, multiple teaching awards from York University and its Faculty of Science, a President’s Sustainability Leadership Award, and recognition by The Globe and Mail as York University’s “Hotshot Prof.”

“Professor Bazely represents a truly interdisciplinary researcher committed to knowledge translation and public engagement” said Rui Wang, dean of the Faculty of Science at York. “She is an award-winning teacher at the Faculty and University level and a highly regarded expert and leader in science communications – regularly pursuing knowledge mobilization activities and networking on climate change, global sustainability, environmental protection, and public engagement. She is most deserving of this prestigious award. Congratulations Professor Dr. Bazely!”

A public event to honour Bazely’s contributions will be held virtually on Jan. 24, when she will sit down with previous Fleming Medalist and beloved Canadian science communicator Jay Ingram.

RCIScience was established in 1849 by Sir Sandford Fleming and provides a platform for public engagement with leading scientists, to foster critical thinking, expand science dialogue and promote informed decision making. It has been awarding the Sandford Fleming Medal and Citation annually since 1982 to an individual working in Canada who has made outstanding contributions to science communication.

Celebrate Ada Lovelace’s legacy at Libraries’ Wiki Edit-a-Thon

Painting of Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace Day is an international celebration of women’s achievements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Lovelace was a 19th-century English mathematician and writer who also happened to be the very first computer programmer. She wrote what were essentially computer programs for the analytical engine that computing pioneer Charles Babbage conceptualized, but never actually created. Her contributions and achievements had been largely overlooked – an issue that continues to exist for women in many fields, especially science.

Dawn Bazely
Dawn Bazely

For the seventh time, York University Libraries – in collaboration with Professor Dawn Bazely from York’s Faculty of Science – will join the global celebration of Ada Lovelace Day with an event open to everyone with an interest in STEM subjects and the contributions of women.

The Ada Lovelace Day Women in Science Wikipedia and Wikidata Edit-a-Thon will take place on Thursday, Nov. 3 from noon to 3 p.m. online. Participants will have the opportunity to join an interdisciplinary team of faculty and students to create, expand and improve Wikipedia entries and Wikidata items about women in STEM, who are typically underrepresented.

“Wikipedia edit-a-thons help us rediscover the contributions of women in STEM over the centuries,” said Bazely.

In order to create a positive change, this informal workshop will critically examine the information represented on Wikipedia and Wikidata, while simultaneously providing hands-on editing experience. Those interested are invited to drop by any time. No experience is necessary, with training to be provided during the event.

“We want to engage the York community in a fun and easy way that really does make a difference in the representation of women,” said data visualization and analytics Librarian Alex Wong, an event co-organizer. “By editing Wikipedia and Wikidata, we can impact not only these platforms directly, but also indirectly impact how women get represented in larger technology projects like Google’s Knowledge Graph.”

To register and learn more, visit the event page.

“By improving how women in all the various STEM fields are covered on Wikipedia, just about anyone can make a concrete contribution towards making the world a better place,” said scholarly communications Librarian John Dupuis, another event co-organizer.

Lassonde space engineering student accepted into European Space Agency’s 2022 CubeSat Summer School

Haya Mohamed

Haya Mohamed, a fourth-year space engineering student at York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering, has been accepted into the European Space Agency’s 2022 CubeSat Summer School in Belgium, where she will be one of the first participants in an innovative new training program for university students with engineering and physics backgrounds who are highly motivated to pursue a career in the space sector.

The summer program starts in August 2022, at Galaxia, in Transinne, Belgium, as part of the European Space Security and Education Centre (ESEC). This four-week experience gives a select group of students the opportunity to learn about the entire project lifecycle of a CubeSat mission, from design to launch, getting hands-on experiential learning in areas such as project management assembly, operations and satellite communications.

Experiential learning is something Mohamed is passionate about; she has been actively involved with many initiatives throughout her years at Lassonde. Most notably, in 2020, she began working with Lassonde’s kindergarten to industry (k2i) academy as a program mentor lead for the Helen Carswell STEAM program. In this role, she worked closely with 10 high school students and guided them as they completed research projects inspired by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SGDs). 

“k2i academy provides a space where students can work together towards a common goal and find a solution to a problem,” says Mohamed. “Engineering really has a place for everyone, and by showing other students that they belong in engineering, I realized that I belonged as well.”

Mohamed also gained hands-on experience by participating in a space engineering research project with Lassonde Professor Franz Newland. She joined his team as a systems lead, where she was able to gain a new perspective on space engineering. Her job was to focus on small details such as the integration of different components, and she found an interest in the attention to detail that engineering requires.

Haya Mohamed in the ESSENCE lab

She also joined ESSENCE, a CubeSat Team at York University, funded by the Canadian Space Agency Grant, which is launching a 3U CubeSat to monitor the northern permafrost using a wide-angle camera. The experience of working on this CubeSat mission, along with the other initiatives she took part in, gave her the practical experience she needed to apply – and get into – the CubeSat Summer School.

“The CubeSat Summer School is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” says Mohamed. “I can’t wait to see the facilities up close and get an inside look at what a career in the space engineering field is like. I’m going into this experience ready to absorb everything they will teach me, and I hope this experience can help me launch my career in space engineering.”

Passion for mechanical engineering leads grad student to explore 4D-bioprinting


York PhD student Daphene Solis is researching new ways to create a novel type of material that is similar to soft contact lenses, which can be used to grow artificial blood vessels for tissue engineering applications.

Solis’ passion for engineering came at a young age while playing with a radio-controlled car. “I was amazed how the toy can be controlled and wanted to disassemble it to figure out how it works,” says Solis, who is a PhD student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering. “For me, it was a magical thing.”

With her innate curiosity and aptitude for physics and math, Solis found herself drawn toward mechanical engineering. A native of Brazil, Solis completed an undergraduate and master’s degree and was already working in engineering for a company in Paraná, Brazil. Her passion for research led to a decision to move to Canada to begin her doctoral studies in engineering at York University.

Now a PhD student in Professor Alex Czekanski’s lab, Solis is creating 4D-printed thermoresponsive hydrogels, a novel type of material similar to soft contact lenses which can be used to grow artificial blood vessels for tissue engineering applications.

Daphene Solis works in the lab located in the Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellenc
Daphene Solis works in the lab located in the Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence

To make these hydrogels, she is using a process called additive manufacturing (AM) in which three-dimensional objects are created by precisely depositing materials layer-by-layer with the help of computer-aided design. This technique is commonly referred to as 3D printing. Since its invention in the 1980s, 3D printers found early use in rapid industrial prototyping but more recently are utilized in areas as diverse as architecture, art, and even Solis’ field of biomedical engineering. But in the latter case, rather than using industrial metals and plastics to print inanimate objects, cells and biomaterials are used to print functional tissues.

However, even given the advanced state of 3D bioprinting, the ability to create biological constructs that successfully mimic the complexity and conformation of real tissue is hindered by the static nature of the 3D-printed output. Solis’ research adds one more dimension to solve this problem: 4D-bioprinting.

“The fourth dimension is time,” Solis explains. “Instead of producing a fixed shape straight out of a 3D printer, you further apply a stimulus (like heat), and the part will change over time, folding to the desired shape.” She uses a polymer material called poly(N-isopropyl-acrylamide) (pNIPAM) to produce the hydrogels, as they are biocompatible, but also happen to be thermo-responsive, close to human physiological temperatures (32 C).

With the field of bioprinting being less than 10 years old, Solis enjoys the challenging and interdisciplinary nature of the research. In addition to mechanical engineering principles, she’s also had to learn about tissue engineering, blood vessels and cell culturing.

Solis also appreciates that Czekanski’s industry background has given her a broader perspective than typically found in academic environments, for example, influencing how she manages her time and resources.

“Daphene tackles challenging tasks from multidisciplinary perspectives – from engineering and life science,” said Czekanski. “Her work is a building block for soft tissue engineering.” With his support, she will soon carry out a four-month internship at the National Research Council of Canada’s newly opened Advanced Materials Research Facility in Ottawa.

Most recently, in addition to the internship, Solis was awarded the Joseph R. Benedetto Scholarship in June 2022 thanks to her clear interest, talent, enthusiasm and skills related to engineering and manufacturing.

In moving to a new country to pursue her doctoral studies and doing so in the middle of the COVID pandemic, Solis has shown she is no stranger to tackling challenges. So, when asked about the challenges facing women pursuing careers science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), she believes that despite undeniable barriers, success is attainable if one has courage, willingness to learn, a strong drive and a support system.

Solis embraces the responsibility of teaching undergraduate students during TA sessions and supporting junior master’s students who come to her for advice. “I’ve been a PhD student for three years now,” she says, “it makes me feel better knowing that people see me as someone they can seek out for help and guidance.”

“It is our task as women in STEM to destroy the notion that women do not belong in STEM,” says Solis. “It is nonsense.”

York professor to deliver keynote at BE-STEMM conference

Collage showing DNA, medicine and more

On Jan. 31, Jude Kong, an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics in the Faculty of Science, will deliver the plenary keynote at BE-STEMM 2022, which features established and rising stars in research, medicine and academia. The conference runs from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2.

Jude Kong
Jude Kong

Kong, who is also the director of the Africa-Canada Artificial Intelligence and Data Innovation Consortium (ACADIC), will deliver the Black Excellence Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Medicine & Health (BE-STEMM) conference keynote talk on Monday, Jan. 31 at 10:15 a.m. He will also serve as the host for a networking and mentorship event for Black scientists later that day.

His talk, titled “How to harness the power of mathematical models to inform disease outbreak policies,” will focus on the increasing need for informed policy and decision-making to address the unprecedented nature of the pandemic. Kong will speak to how the pandemic has brought mathematicians and infectious disease modelling to the centre stage of public health.

“Mathematicians and mathematical models are playing a key role in real-time delivery of reliable and comprehensive information to predict the spread of COVID-19 and its impact, and in guiding governmental policies and best practice,” said Kong. “So, how do we design a mathematical model of an infectious disease outbreak? How can models be harnessed to inform public health measures at different stages of an outbreak? In this talk, I will provide answers to these questions.” 

Throughout COVID-19, Kong has been leading an interdisciplinary team of more than 50 researchers from key academic and government institutions in nine African countries that have been leveraging Artificial Intelligence to predict and forecast COVID-19 infections in Africa. In 2020, he won a York Research Leader Award.

He is a member of the Canadian Black Scientists Network, a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Mathematics for Public Health Network, and a member of the Canadian COVID-19 Modelling Rapid Response Task Force. Kong is an expert in artificial intelligence, data science and mathematical modelling.

Hosted by the Canadian Black Scientists Network, BE-STEMM is a four-day virtual event that highlights outstanding research, career and recruitment opportunities. The program is designed to engage with Canadians from across the country and focused on removing barriers to attracting and retaining Black Canadians in STEMM.

Topics of the plenaries, panels and presentations cover a wide range of STEMM, including health and disease research, population health and epidemiology, organic and environmental chemistry, biomedical research, cell and molecular biology, new discoveries and innovation in cancer research, ecology, the physical sciences, and earth and environmental science. The conference will end on Feb. 1 with a fireside chat and presentation featuring medical geographer Kirsty Duncan, who is the Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and a Member of Parliament for the riding of Etobicoke North.

Highlights include keynote talks by established and rising star Black Canadian scholars in STEMM; talks and posters from across fields by scientists, clinicians, educators and applied professionals; research presentations by undergraduates and high-school students; and a virtual career fair. BE-STEMM will also feature a Leadership Summit Day focused on best practices and programs for supporting Black Canadians in STEMM.

York University is a platinum sponsor of BE-STEMM 2022 with support coming from the Office of the President, Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation, Office of the Provost and Vice-President Academic, Office of the Vice-President Equity, People & Culture, the Faculties of Science and Health, the Lassonde School of Engineering and the Harriet Tubman Institute.

Daughters for Life Scholarships offer women life-changing opportunities

Image shows fall trees in brilliant reds and golds. The trees line the campus walk on the Keele campus.

Four young women who are the recipients of the Daughters for Life Scholarships reflect on their journey to York University and how their studies are positioning them to be future changemakers.

By Elaine Smith

After his teenaged daughters were killed during an Israeli air strike in 2009, Palestinian-Canadian physician and peace activist Izzeldin Abuelaish (LLD Hons. ’15) didn’t simply mourn; he kept their memories alive by creating the Daughters for Life (DFL) Foundation to offer full undergraduate scholarships that allow young women in the Middle East the opportunity for shining futures and the ability to give back to their home countries. York University, as one of the organization’s newer partners, is privileged to see these talented students begin to reach their potential as scholars and members of society.

“Partnership between academic institutions as York University and Daughters for Life can foster a stable and sustainable world through supporting women’s education, opportunities and role,” says Dr. Abuelaish.

Eva Shenoda
Eva Shenoda

Eva Shenoda, a young woman from rural Egypt who is York’s first graduate of the program, says, “I truly couldn’t imagine my life without Daughters for Life and York University. It’s something I can’t express. I tell others, ‘Don’t be scared. It’s important to get out of your comfort zone and try new things. It makes you strong, gives you new skills and paves the way for your future. Learning is the key to opening lots of doors.’ ”

Shenoda took hold of the DFL opportunity with both hands. After graduating from a high school specializing in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses, she decided that Egyptian universities weren’t equipped to offer the most up-to-date lab equipment and skills training. A friend of hers had applied to Daughters for Life for a scholarship and Shenoda followed suit. She was deemed a good match for York and moved to Canada.

“The team at York International (YI) was great,” she says. “They met me at the airport, took me to residence, showed me around campus and had me participate in the international student orientation. It was the kick-start I needed because I was very shy.”

Shenoda lived in residence during her four years at York, working there and with YI to earn spending money. She is extremely grateful to York for offering her the opportunity to remain in residence during the pandemic when she couldn’t return home.

“I don’t know what I would have done without that,” she says. “It was extremely generous.”

Shenoda graduated from York in 2021 with an honours BSc degree in biology and is now at the University of Calgary working towards a master’s degree in gastrointestinal science with a specialty in immunology, supported by the university and a Faculty research grant. She envisions pursuing a research career and, possibly, a medical degree.

“I miss walking on the York campus,” Shenoda says. “My friends in Toronto are my family in North America and York, for sure, is my home.”

Rasha Aljbour Almajali, a third-year student majoring in commerce and human relations at York University, grew up in Amman, Jordan, the oldest daughter of four. Her mother was the family’s sole provider and a strong believer in education. Aljbour Almajali’s DFL scholarship is her key to a university education.

Although she applied for a number of scholarships, Daughters for Life was the only one that supported her in all aspects, something that made it possible for Aljbour Almajali to study abroad.

“I had the interviews and our goals aligned,” she says. “It was amazing, honestly. The people at the program kept checking on me as if I were their own daughter. Their investment in my education humbled me and drives me even more to prove myself.

“It was my last hope. When I told my mother I had been offered the scholarship, she cried, and I cried.”

Aljbour Almajali’s dreams of ultimately working at the United Nations or the World Bank so she can “give back to the world,” but plans to earn a master’s degree in international relations or public policy first. The diversity she has discovered at York and in Toronto fascinates her.

“I’m always learning something new about different religions and cultures and how people think,” she says. “I try to put myself in others’ shoes, thinking about how they grew up and what made them that way. It’s so interesting; I’ve never been exposed to so much diversity in my life.”

Dania Mahadin
Dania Mahadin

Dania Mahadin, another Jordanian student from Amman, is in her second year of civil engineering studies, thanks to Daughters for Life.

“Everyone told me I couldn’t do engineering – an Arab, hijabi-wearing girl in a male-dominated field,” Mahadin says. “I try to challenge all of those stereotypes.”

The pandemic lockdown meant Mahadin spent her first year of university study at home in Jordan, so she is new to the Keele Campus and to living alone.

“I want to engage with the community,” she says. “I’m in my second year and I have never been to class in a lecture hall.”

She has joined York’s Women in Science and Engineering club as a member of the executive and is busy helping to plan a winter term hacking event for high-school and university students; Mahadin is also very involved with AIESEC, an international leadership organization that works to make the world a better place.

“School literally changed my life,” she says. “I feel like it’s home here.”

Using her passion for computers, mathematics and science, Mahadin hopes to put her engineering talents to work creating buildings where people can live and gather, creating community.

“I think about how I can combine my Jordanian heritage with my Canadian influences and build a place where people can respect each other and live together in peace,” Mahadin says.

Another student, Passant Metawally from Egypt, went to a STEM high school and wanted to pursue her studies further, even though, in Egypt, “women tend not to pursue careers in computer science and engineering.”

“I decided DFL offered me the only chance to test myself as a person and academically in adapting to many different things, and I’m glad I made that choice; it has forced me to grow so much,” says the fourth-year computer engineering student. “I have adapted well.”

She hasn’t yet decided between pursuing a graduate degree that integrates computers and biology or going back to Egypt to lend her talents to a thriving community of startup companies, but either option offers opportunities for further growth.

“York University is proud to be a partner with the Daughters for Life Foundation,” says Vinitha Gengatharan, executive director of York International. “DFL and York University share a common purpose and vision.

At York, our goals include facilitating access for success to talented students, from underrepresented or marginalized groups in Canada and beyond (namely low- and lower-middle income countries). York University covers the tuition and other expenses for these women who have, in the face of war and other adversities, performed remarkably to improve their lives and communities. The young women who have come through the program are incredibly bright and deserving of every opportunity to succeed. York is delighted to be part of their journey.”

New partnership to advance fight against global financial crime and support equity, diversity and inclusion in STEM

YFile Featured image Lassonde School of Engineering

The funding from Scotiabank provides $980,000 to support critical research into global financial crimes and security. It will be named the Scotiabank Lassonde Financial Crimes Research Initiative.

At a time when financial markets, technologies and products have become more complex and financial crimes are increasing, Canadian universities can play a critical role in addressing the global shortage of trained experts equipped to tackle these crimes – many of which can impact the most vulnerable such as children, newcomers and elderly.

On Sept. 13, York University announced a contribution from Scotiabank that will provide $980,000 to support a variety of initiatives at the Lassonde School of Engineering.

The funding will support research into global financial crimes and computer security, while also providing support for programs that advance equity, diversity and inclusion in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

“York University is profoundly grateful to Scotiabank for their generous investment of $980,000 in support of the Lassonde School of Engineering. This contribution reflects the shared commitment of York and Scotiabank to supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion in science, technology, engineering and math fields and to advancing the groundbreaking work of our researchers in the field of financial crime prevention,” said Rhonda L. Lenton, president and vice-chancellor of York University. “In recognition of this substantial investment, the fund that supports critical research in global financial crimes will be named the Scotiabank Lassonde Financial Crimes Research Initiative.”

Top row: From left, Lisa Cole, director of programming K21 Academy; Lassonde School of Engineering Dean Jane Goodyer; and Stuart Davis, executive vice president, Financial Crimes Risk Management, Scotiabank. Middle row: From left, York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton, Lassonde School of Engineering third-year student Deinabo Richard-Koko; Uyen Nguyen, associate professor, Lassonde. Bottom row: From left, Charles Achampong, director, Community Partnerships, Scotiabank; E. Louise Spencer, acting vice-president advancement, York University; Josephine Morgenroth, PhD candidate, Lassonde School of Engineering and Faculty of Graduate Studies, York University.
Top row, from left: Lisa Cole, director of programming K21 Academy; Lassonde School of Engineering Dean Jane Goodyer; and Stuart Davis, executive vice-president, financial crimes risk management, Scotiabank. Middle row, from left: York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton; Lassonde School of Engineering third-year student Deinabo Richard-Koko; Uyen Nguyen, associate professor, Lassonde. Bottom row, from left: Charles Achampong, director, community partnerships, Scotiabank; E. Louise Spencer, acting vice-president advancement, York University; Josephine Morgenroth, PhD candidate, Lassonde School of Engineering and Faculty of Graduate Studies, York University

This innovative research initiative will support the essential work of talented graduate students and advance research areas related to global financial crimes, which include Ponzi schemes, money laundering efforts and cryptocurrency-based crimes, along with other serious areas of crime such as human trafficking, wildlife trafficking, sexual exploitation and drug trafficking. 

“There is a significant shortage of people with the specialized skills and knowledge to do this work,” says Uyen T. Nguyen, associate professor at the Lassonde School of Engineering. “This research program will also prepare students and emerging scholars for jobs. We are also helping to further promote Toronto as a global financial hub, and providing professionals and expert specialists to the industry locally.”

This work has already shown promise in the real world, says Nguyen.

“This initiative with the Lassonde School of Engineering builds on a long history of collaboration between Scotiabank and York University, spanning five decades,” says Stuart Davis, executive vice-president of financial crimes risk management at Scotiabank. “We are thrilled to be working with Lassonde’s students and faculty on leading-edge research to inform techniques used to combat financial crimes risk, while promoting a shared purpose to advance social sustainability goals.”

As part of Scotiabank’s generous investment in activities that advance equity, diversity and inclusion, the Lassonde School of Engineering’s Helen Carswell STEAM Program for Women will also receive support to encourage participation from Grade 10 and 11 students from marginalized neighbourhoods in a unique eight-week program of paid research in the school’s lab, which conducts work related to the United Nations Sustainabile Development Goals. High-school students in the program will work on research projects related to engineering and science under the guidance of undergraduate research assistant mentors, high-school teachers and Lassonde faculty.

As well, Scotiabank will support Lassonde’s Kindergarten to Industry Academy – expanding the K2I Academy to three Greater Toronto Area school boards to further enhance Grade 9 to 12 science and mathematics programs. Lassonde’s K2I Academy is an innovative ecosystem of STEM educators, thought leaders and partners focused on bringing STEM experiences to youth, educators and communities. K2I Academy is working with partners from Kindergarten to industry to dismantle systemic barriers and build sustainable programs that diversify representation in STEM professions.

“These programs are not just about STEM education. It’s social justice work,” says Lisa Cole, director of programming at K2I Academy. “We want to make sure that every student has a chance to explore the subjects before they make a decision about their path of studies. We want them to see the possibilities for their futures and the social impact they can make.”

Deinabo Richard-Koko, a third-year Lassonde student and mentor with the K2I Academy, says the program is unique in that it shows students how to apply their learnings in real time. “Most people say: ‘What does this add to my life? I’m never going to use this again outside the classroom,’ ” says Richard-Koko. “But with the K2I Academy, students can see the real-time application of what they learned. They can actually use it.”

The support from Scotiabank is already having a huge impact on Lassonde’s programs.

“This funding allowed us to make critical enhancements. We were able to purchase materials and resources, like small electronic devices for engineering learning, to help engage students in hands-on learning,” says Cole. “Without this gift, we wouldn’t have the creative space that we need to innovate and develop outreach materials for our students.”

The goal of these initiatives is to remove systemic barriers to access for underrepresented students in STEM and increase student achievement and enrolment in the prerequisite courses needed to enter post-secondary studies in engineering.

“At Lassonde, we know how important it is to support students of all backgrounds,” says Jane Goodyer, dean of the Lassonde School of Engineering. “That’s why I am pleased we are collaborating with Scotiabank through a shared sense of purpose, determined to equip every student with the skills and values needed to succeed in STEM fields as they work toward a better future.”

Lassonde EDI fund supports initiatives that reduce barriers and promote equity

Bergeron Centre for Engineering FEATURED image for new YFile format

The Lassonde School of Engineering at York University has introduced a new equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) funding initiative to promote a culture of EDI at the school while helping to remove systemic barriers for faculty, students and staff in academia.

This initiative, spearheaded by the EDI Sub-Committee and the Lassonde Research Office, supports the development and enhancement of an inclusive culture at Lassonde and beyond. The funding provides community members with many ways to advance equity, diversity and inclusion, from developing new recruitment strategies and funding EDI training to supporting faculty members during parental leaves and life events.

Jane Goodyer
Jane Goodyer

There are two funding categories available as part of the EDI fund. The first aims to improve work-life balance and support faculty members who are new parents, caregivers or going through extraordinary life events. The second category is meant to support initiatives that strive to catalyze change and create a diverse and inclusive environment at Lassonde.

“Different backgrounds and experiences provide a wide range of perspectives which strengthen our educational and research missions aimed towards making a positive impact on a global scale,” said Jane Goodyer, dean of the Lassonde School of Engineering. “By introducing new EDI funding that supports initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion within our community, we can create a cultural change within our school and beyond. Our work can help create systemic change in academia and in the workforce.”

Equity, diversity and inclusion are a key priority for the school, with the EDI Sub-Committee and the Kindergarten to Industry (K2I) Academy acting as key drivers over the past years in implementing initiatives and programs that can create a systemic change within the school and across the education system.

This EDI fund is meant to empower students, faculty and staff to make a difference and pave the way to a more equitable future for all. With this fund, students, faculty and staff have the freedom to design their own initiatives, get creative, and find ways to think outside the box to make the school a more diverse and inclusive space. Community members can also use this funding towards training opportunities to enhance their EDI knowledge and credentials.

For more information about the funding categories and application instructions, visit Lassonde’s EDI Funding webpage.